Friday, January 21, 2011

Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner: a famous Indian Freemasons of his time

Maharaja Ganga Singh (October 3, 1880, Bikaner–2 February 1943, Bombay) was the ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Bikaner (in present-day Rajasthan, India) from 1888 to 1943. He is widely remembered as a modern reformist visionary, and he was also the only non-Anglo member of the British Imperial War Cabinet during World War I.
Sri Ganga Singh was born on October 3, 1880, the third and youngest son of Maharaj Sri Lal Singh, and brother to Dungar Singh.Succeeding his brother in 16 dece. 1888, he was initially educated privately, then at Mayo College, Ajmer from 1889 to 1894. From 1895 to 1898, he was put under the guidance of Thakur Saheb Lall Singh Ji "Churu" for administrative training, learning administrative work from that of Patwari to that of Prime Minister.

For military training, he was sent to Deoli in 1898 and attached to the Deoli Regiment, which had the reputation of being one of the finest Regiment in India under the command of Lt. Col. Bell. During the first World War, he commanded the Bikaner Camel Corps which served in France, Egypt and Palestine.

As a ruler, he established a Chief Court in Bikaner, presided over by a Chief Judge who was assisted by two judges. Bikaner was the first State in Rajasthan to take such a step. He announced the establishment of a Representative Assembly in 1913. He later established a High Court with a Chief Justice and two sub-judges by an edict in 1922. Maharaja Ganga Singhji was the first prince in Rajputana to grant full charter of powers to a high court.

A life insurance and Endowment Assurance Scheme was introduced for the benefit of the employees. Also, facilities of a saving bank were made available to the people. He was one of the first rulers to introduce through legislation a Sharda Act by which child marriages were stopped.

He had a personal gun salute of 19-guns granted in 1918 and a permanent local gun salute of 19-guns granted in 1921, was the Hon. ADC to HRH the Prince of Wales in 1902 and to HM George V in 1910. A Member of the Central Recruiting Board-India 1917, he represented India at the Imperial War Conference 1917, the Imperial War Cabinet and the Paris Peace Conference 1919 and was Chancellor of the Indian Chamber of Princes from 1920-26. He also represented India as a delegate at the fifth session of the League of Nations in 1924.

As well, Singh served as Patron of Banaras Hindu University and Sri Bharat Dharam Mahamandal, as Vice President of East India Association and Royal Colonial Institute, a Member of the Indian Gymkhana Club and of the Indian Army Temperance Association, the General Council of Mayo and Daly Colleges the Indian Society of Oriental Art, the Indian Society-London, the Bombay Natural History Society, and was the first Member of the Indian Red Cross Society. Singh a famous Indian Freemasons of his time.

He married 1stly in July 1897 HH Maharani Vallabhkuver Sahiba of Pratapgarh; she died 19 August 1906. He then married 2ndly HH Maharani Sri Bhatiyaniji Sahiba of Bikamkor and had issue, four sons and two daughters. He died 2 February 1943 in Bombay after a reign of 56 years, aged 62, and was succeeded by his son Sadul Singh.

Works & Achievements of Maharaja Ganga Singh:

Maharaja Ganga Singh constructed the Ganga Canal. He inspired people to come and settle in this new Command area. A large population settled than there. Among them the Sikh families mostly the land owners, migrated to this region from the Punjab around 1928, when the canal was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of the former Bikaner state. Hindu families are the original inhabitants of this region; however, there were no permanent settlements in this area (except for a few towns under the old Bikaner state).
He successfully dealt with the worst famine of the year 1899-1900 AD in the region. This famine inspired the young Maharaja to establish an irrigation system to get rid of the problem permanently.
He developed the city of Sri Ganganagar and its surrounding area as the most fertile grain bowl of Rajasthan
He also constructed the Lallgarh Palace at Bikaner (named in memory of his father Lall Singh) between 1902 and 1926.
He brought railways and an electricity network to the state.
He introduced prison reforms. Bikaner prisoners wove and crafted carpets of India that were sold in the international markets.
He established partial internal democracy such as election to the municipalities and appointed a council of ministers to aid and advice.
Some land reforms were also introduced.
He induced enterprising Industrialist and agriculturists from neighbouring state for starting new ventures in his state.
He built the existing temple above the Samadhi of Ramdev Pir at Ramdevra in year 1931.

Honours & Rewards, achieved by Maharaja Ganga Singh:

Kaiser-i-Hind, 1st Class (KIH)-1900
Mentioned in Dispatches-1901
China War Medal (1900)-1901
King Edward VII Coronation Medal-1902
Delhi Durbar Medal (gold)-1903
Grand Cross of the Order of Philip the Magnanimous of Hesse-1903
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE)-1907 (KCIE-1901)
Honorary LL.D (Cantab.)-1911
King George V Coronation Medal-1911
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI)-1911 (KCSI-1904)
1914 Star-1914
Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John (GCStJ)-1914
Mentioned in Despatches-1914
Honorary LL.D (Edinburgh)-1917
Mentioned in Despatches-1918
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)-1918
British War Medal-1918
Victory Medal-1918
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile of Egypt-1918
Honorary DCL (Oxon.)-1919
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)-1919
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) - New Year Honours 1921, for war service[3]
Honorary LL.D (Banaras Hindu University)-1927
Honorary LL.D (Osmania University)-1927
King George V Silver Jubilee Medal-1935
King George VI Coronation Medal-1937
Africa Star-1942
War Medal 1939-1945-1945 (posthumous)
1939-1945 Star-1945 (posthumous)
India Service Medal-1945 (posthumous)
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